10 South Van Ness Double Towers Context

A proposal for two 40-story towers to rise over a 12-story podium building on the southwest corner of Market and Van Ness, the current San Francisco Honda site which is across the street from the proposed One Oak tower, cater-corner to the 30 Van Ness site, and across the Avenue from the 1500-1580 Mission project, has indeed been submitted to the city’s Planning Department for review.

As designed by Handel Architects for Crescent Heights, the proposed 10 South Van Ness “Double Tower” scheme would rise to a height of 440 feet and include 767 residential units over 20,000 square feet of retail space fronting Market and Van Ness with a garage for 275 cars and 265 bikes below.

10 South Van Ness Double Towers Section

Proposed streetscape improvements include wider sidewalks, two public plazas, art and trees, with a retail/café oriented plaza at the corner of South Van Ness and 12th Street.

10 South Van Ness Double Towers Streetscape

And in terms of the timing, keep in mind that San Francisco Honda has the option to remain on the site until the end of 2016.

89 thoughts on “The Double Tower Scheme for the San Francisco Honda Site”
  1. Perfect post as, as I mentioned earlier, the concern folks have that this 4 corner complex of 400 foot towers might not just end there.

    What is to stop developers from pressuring to have the block just west of the Honda site up-zoned for a 30 story building. Or the block south from the Honda site on Mission?

    No one wants high-rise creep from this intersection but knowing developers and the City’s desire for revenue from the towers many worry this will not end with the planned to date towers.

    1. I for one would be happy with Market Street becoming something like Wilshire in Westwood, with moderate highrises all the way from the water to ~Duboce – and such development would be totally appropriate with the scale of the street and its role in the city.

    2. You may not want more towers, but you’re certainly wrong that “no one wants” them. This is a great area for high rises! It’s near public transportation and also a very central location in the city near both jobs and entertainment. This is a huge improvement over the Honda dealership and I hope we see more like it nearby!

    3. No one wants high-rise creep from this intersection

      Not “no one”. Because that’s fine by me, and apparently a couple of people here.

    4. What? I can’t tell if you are joking or trolling. This is essentially the gateway to the city, Van Ness is a major street. This area should be high-rise towers, not vacant / decaying buildings. The intersection of the two biggest streets in the city should mean something, not an empty parking lot and a donut shop (that doesn’t look like it sells donuts), not to mention the hideous BoA and Walgreens buildings.

    5. Your last sentence couldn’t be more untrue. I hope that we can “highrise creep” up and down both Market and Van Ness.

    6. Wake up, grow up, and shut up.
      “No one wants high-rise creep”… this is the perfect intersection for this mid-rise, much needed housing units!

    7. Don’t say no one wants “high rise creep”. I do. This exceptionally transit rich location is among the places we should be building high rises.

    8. I would love to see more high rises in this neighborhood. I work right next door, and am super happy to see a plan for high-rise housing going in.

    9. Please don’t speak for me. Seems as if there are a lot more someones okay with high rises at this location than not. This is a great location for transit and being centrally located along two major corridors.

    10. Had to pile in to say I too want high-rise “creep” — aka efficient land use and sane housing policy. If you want short buildings I hear Modesto is nice this time of year.

  2. Is it just me or should that image be labeled “View looking down Market Street?”

    [Editor’s Note: You’ll have to take that one up with Crescent Heights (who labeled the image).]

    1. Agreed. Some folks just always say “up,” as in, “I’m going up to Palo Alto today.”

  3. What exactly is the worry? SF needs more housing – badly. It makes infinite sense to build as much of it as we can right next to major public transit hubs.

    It’s either that, or build much more in outlying areas where the new residents will need cars.

  4. The roads are stuffed, the bike lanes packed, the muni overflowing, the bart stuffed to capacity.

    I guess most of these residents will walk to city hall or twitter, and hang out at the plaza behind, because they may not be able to get anywhere…. (looks like Rincon, with water ballast at the roof top, and little green but the developers profits as they build 8-9′ slabbed pied-a-terre’s)

    scary to think what happens when all these people cannot live in their units post an EQ…

    1. I bike on Market Street all the time, and when I don’t I’m riding BART from the Mission to downtown. Neither mode is anywhere near capacity. Please calm down.

      1. exactly…BART has tons of capacity. Muni does not. If I lived here I’d probably walk to Civic Center BART over Van Ness Muni if I were trying to travel during rush hour.

      2. very calm, you most likely don’t ride during commute hours, or walk the area when bikes barrel down market st. and pedestrians have to jump aside to avoid getting creamed…

          1. why do I have a feeling that if he’d complained about pedestrians having to jump out of the way of cars barrelling down Market Street, your reaction would have been very different

        1. I too have been nearly hit by bikes. But that’s not a function of too many bikes on the road, it’s a function of F’ing morons getting away with disregarding traffic signals because they think the law is merely a suggestion for them. Have SFPD ticket bicyclists every day and miraculously this problem will go away. And maybe come close to paying for all those bike lanes.

    2. As a factual note, modern buildings are far, far, far safer in an earthquake than old ones. When the big one hits, the people living here are the most likely to be able to live in their units.

      1. It is true that buildings have become safer due to increased seismic requirements. But I would not count on highrise units to be safe for occupation after the Big One. The EQ building codes are intended to ensure that the structure is intact enough for safe evacuation after a quake. The building itself could be a total loss. It is possible that a century-old wooden Vic that’s had basic seismic retrofits has a better chance of reoccupation after the Big One than a brand new tower.

    3. I take the muni trains downtown everyday. It’s not that bad, plus this is a very walkable neighborhood, people living here could make many, if not most trips on foot or bike.

  5. That’s why Honda is still in business selling cars to people fleeing to the outskirts of the ABAG controlled city urban development. (See 48 Hills article on ABAG and forced density)

      1. It’s all part of AGENDA 21! SKREE SKREE SKREE.

        I mean, I saw in a DREAM a phalanx of blue-helmeted enforcers, led by an Obama stripped of his human disguise and riding on a black horse while chanting to Allah. These demons were destroying PARKING LOTS and two story concrete block industrial buildings. They were forcing people from their cars, people who only wanted to drive the two blocks needed to grab a cup of coffee, and forcing them, FORCING THEM I TELL YOU, to walk!

        It was inhuman! Inhuman. And then I woke up and realized that it was only people on the internet complaining because of change.

  6. For the sake of the skyline it would be nice if at least one new tower in this area was closer to 600 feet tall, to break up the 400′ shelf effect.

    1. If any property in the area needs upsizing, it is this one- two 600′ towers with counter sloped crowns would create an awesome hilltop peak effect.

  7. This may be a somewhat naive question, but does a 400 foot height limit always mean 400 feet plus an extra 10 percent for mechanical equipment room, etc., or is this added height a discretionary number determined during the review process? The reason why I ask is that a significant number of people living on the east-facing hillsides from Twin Peaks northward live at similar elevations, so relatively small variations in these buildings’ height will be perceived quite differently.

    1. Really? They are 1-2 miles away on a hilltop with expansive views with or without these buildings, and there is even a notion that they have a say on what a developer does within legal framework (read: zoning) on said developer’s privately paid for and thus owned/deeded land in an entirely different part of the city?

      Whether or not you are wondering from a bystander’s perspective if there will be a fight (and maybe you’re hoping there won’t be) or if you are a hillside resident who would vehemently fight this based on views, the whole notion that this is brought up is absurd. It’s laughable that this is a huge issue. The most entitled city ever, whether it be homeless enjoying the Royal Palace of homeless services in this country, the rich on hills with their views and ballooning real estate values due to lack of construction, or the activists who have been given a morsel and now demand a diamond from everyone and everything, we are the most pathetically entitled city. Every one of us.

      1. Your indignation at my question is entirely misplaced. The aim of my question was simply to clarify if the difference between the 400 foot height allowed by zoning and the 440 foot actual height is as of right or awarded at the discretion of planning.

        Because these buildings will be significantly taller than any in their vicinity, and because they are located closer to the hillsides, they will become the dominant visual element for people who happen to live on the east-facing hillsides. Their location ensures that they will not have much of an effect on most resident’s views; and this was a significant consideration when the zoning heights for these parcels were determined. But if a 10% height increase for these parcels is not as of right, it would express a sense of entitlement on the part of the developers rather than on the part of those who will have to view these buildings for many years to come.

        1. Height limits in SF are to roof level. You’re allowed to go a bit higher for crowns/spires/mechanical boxes, look at literally any other tower under construction in the city for proof. So 440 feet in total, with a roof height of 400′ is perfectly fine, and not breaking any rules.

          1. And for the record, 440′ is not at all “significantly taller” than nearby existing towers/planned towers. It’s pretty much the same exact height as the rest of them.

  8. So looking forward to seeing this area change for the better. Hopefully this will improve 12th street currently overrun by so much craziness. I think it was once called homeless island or something along that line.

  9. San Francisco is so alarmist and unnaturally regressive/sensationalist that even people who read development blogs have to post negative comments about growth/new construction. Everyone needs to go to SPARC or Grassroots, both of which are in walking distance to this proposal, and calm the _ down.

    If there is anger to be directed here, it’s at fellow alarmist neighbors and God-awful supervisors who prevent any new developments from happening (thus we are in the situation we are in now that the economy is booming and no new housing units have been built, for decades). Also at City Leadership and SFMTA for horrible planning/lack of progress on transit improvements/projects. Denver built their Union Station and new commuter and light rail lines for $500M. We are spending $4-5Bn on a bus terminal with an empty train box and a park on top, and $1.6Bn to build a mile of underground LRT with the foresight to put in platforms that will have room for no more than 2 MUNI cars and a track that ends just past Chinatown and doesn’t go all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf, yet is a route touted as a tourist route.

    Meanwhile, we spent billions on a mediocre bridge that may not be as earthquake proof as we thought we afforded, we spend hundreds of millions a year on homeless services and then complain about our piss and poop covered sidewalks and wonder why we have a homeless “problem”, and we elect so many boards of people every so often and yet still rather than let elected officials govern, we put everything on the ballot box. Everything.

    I’m not mad at unbuilt skyscrapers in a large urban city. I’m mad at the mental energy it takes to tolerate the back asswardsness of this city! LoL

    1. Preach! Sad because it’s all painfully true… You left out Van Ness and Geary BRT taking a decade plus with nothing to show for it.

    2. The transit here does suck. Why is subway such a dirty word? It’s so obvious the bus system no longer works: like painting Geary red’s going to help. We need half a dozen new interlocking subways to diminish pedestrian slaughter . A pedestrian’s killed almost once a week now, and most of the new construction isn’t even built nor occupied, aka, the problem could become tenfold. Not to mention that riding the buses is unpleasant and a waste of time. The present approach to city transit seems to be, largely, “dressing up the problem.”

      1. Bus system no longer works: I experienced this the other day on a 47 whose route has been changed to make it faster. Now it is routed through rush hour gridlock it used to avoid and took 30 minutes LONGER to get from the CalTrain station to Market/Van Ness than it ever has before. Nice move Muni–it took years of study for you to make things worse this time.

        1. “Nice move Muni–it took years of study for you to make things worse this time.” common theme. wait till we build enough bike lanes for the proposed 20% of commuters to bike, and the number is actually still below 5%. the traffic will be much worse and the planners will be wondering what happened. Seriously, a bunch of morons

        2. A 30 minute -delay- is especially pathetic considering you could walk the whole whole distance in just 30 minutes. Hopefully you just experienced a fluke.

          1. Yeah, it’s a rare trip on MUNI that doesn’t take within 5-10 minutes of walking. Between the 15-20 minute headways and the stops at every. single. block. I’ve found that if the bus isn’t an L (now R) route, you need to have really excellent luck and get to the stop just as the bus arrives to make it actually worth bothering with.

      2. I think it’s just a matter of the only cities with decent subways built most of the tunnels 60-100+ years ago. Back then construction was much cheaper, because it was either privately funded in many cases, or built by the government directly. They also in that time had few concerns about legal liability or worker safety. So they could dig dozens of tunnels in NY in the span of time that we have added bike lanes on Market.

        Today corrupt politicians are in charge of the whole process, so the budget can be infinite on each part of each project, depleting funds for future projects, and the contractors who get the bids aren’t the ones offering the fairest deal but just the friends of the government who may be slow and overpriced. So now conservatives will oppose a subway and whine about how it’s way too expensive (which is technically true). Plus add in environmental red tape and most of all, NIMBYs and it’s doubtful we will add more than tiny specks of tunnel (like the idiotic “Central” Subway) during the next 150 years no matter what we want. Our great grandparents really blew SF’s chance to build. Maybe they were too busy rebuilding after ’06 to foresee the need then?

  10. we have a homeless problem because we have a large number of people for a variety of reasons are dropping off the edge of society. Jobs don;t pay that well, housing is expensive, drugs and alcohol are everywhere, and it is so easy to be enabled in making bad personal decisions. And, the homeless numbers are rising everywhere. Don;t take the island mentality that ony SF is experiencing a homelessness problem They are everywhere. The modern social system and economy means that some people are…surplus. And it will get worse once the current digital bubble collapses and the Too Much Bigger That Failure is Inevitable Banks all implode.

  11. I see the streetscape plan for 12th Street includes “living street.”
    I think they got it wrong; they should call it what it will become, which is, “street living.”

  12. Isn’t that the southWEST corner where the SF Honda sits?

    [Editor’s Note: Yes (and since corrected above).]

  13. Well we aren’t the Paris of the West anymore. We’re the Wilshire Boulevard of NORCAL. Charming.

    1. Did someone actually once say we were the Paris of the West? I love this city, and I love Paris, and … I don’t see it. And what’s wrong with Wilshire anyway – Westwood and Mid-Wilshire are some of my favorite parts of L.A. – a helluva lot better than the interminable motor-court inspired apartment buildings that frame so many major streets in L.A.

    2. Paris of the West? Lol. SF is the 4th largest city in the state of California, Paris is an Alpha ++ international powerhouse of culture and wealth.

      1. Size doesn’t matter—it’s about influence. There are many larger cities in the world that people couldn’t find on a map.

        P.S. Paris is not “Alpha++”. It’s actually quite feminine in its sensibilities; even the French language refers to it as a feminine object. Perhaps you’re thinking of London, a much more aggressive, masculine city?

      1. I like how Baku, Azerbaijan is self-awarded the moniker “Paris of the East”.

        I’d like to nominate Fremont, CA as Baku of the West.

        1. Baku is a major capital City, with 3 times the population of SF, the largest City of the Region, stunning architecture, a top 10 rates urban nightlife and an UNESCO World Heritage City for an Inner City.

          Yet you compare it to Fremont?? I really regret not visiting Baku when I was back in the UK and Wales played soccer there – I been living in Bay Area 8 years and have no desire to visit Fremont.

          It’s a big world out there – and much of it is beautiful, not just SF and Paris. And yes, even Islamic countries of the former Soviet Union,

          1. OK so the comparison to Fremont wasn’t really fair but Baku is certainly no Paris. Outside of Baku’s collection of historic buildings are Soviet era utilitarian structures and glitzy shiny gaudy buildings for the neo-aristocrats.

            Baku is on my short list but I won’t be going there expecting a Paris-like experience. Maybe it would seem like Paris if you’ve just arrived from Taskent.

          2. Ha Ha fair enough.

            Uzbekistan though..now you are talking.

            OK, Tashkent doesn’;t look like much, but Samarkand and Bukhara on the Silk Road look truly stunning places to visit. One day….

  14. Wilshire in Westwood is cleaner safer and much much less smelly than upper Market Street. 🙂

    While there is a strong bias in SF planning against anything not thought of here – we should be looking at what other California cities do right and emulate them….

  15. Hope that area doesn’t become all 40 stories. It would be nice to have some varied heights like 45, 40, 35, 30 etc., and not necessarily in 5 story intervals. Some drama would be nice.

  16. Also keep in mind that Van Ness/Market is often cited as a good BART infill station. The extra density would help justify that.

  17. I don’t like the twin buildings concept. I’d prefer that the heights and profiles of the buildings be of a similar, but distinct design.

  18. Ugh. I’m so over the double tower designs. Split the parcel and build two different and interesting towers. This twin tower crap has reached a fever pitch and I’m over it.

  19. I like tall towers, I live in one. I hope there are more _well planned towers_ but I’m not holding my breath. IF these go up they’ll be bland and bring nothing to the street scape.

    I love it that when a 400′ tower is proposed people here want a 600′ tower, as if tall towers made a real city.

    1. Tall towers, as one aspect of population density, certainly help make a “real city”. Real cities operate 24 hours and the other ways they do because they have the concentration of people–business customers–at all hours living all sorts of lifestyles to support a large variety of activity.

  20. There’s a critical shortage of units to speculate on. We need to fastrack development of speculative properties before the boom busts. There’s money to be made! Build it!

  21. money to be made, damn the environment we create. two beers, you should probably join the table with planning commissioner antonini, SPUR and SFHAC…

    all ignoring the premise of how to develop buildings with any semblance of design, style or respect towards the existing inhabitants of these neighborhoods.

    1. “… any semblance of design, style or respect towards the existing inhabitants of these neighborhoods.”

      neighborhood, schmeigborhood.

      Whadya got against Houston?

  22. Its two more Rincon towers with no design, and absolutely poor massing. The transit is still the issue. Turn the Van Ness BRT into a lightrail LRV system below or above grade and you have a solution. Without it we have 100% a traffic nightmare worse than today. Its thinking beyond the outline of the site, to the impacts such a project creates. The architects unfortunately just design the slab to slab layout, and skin the building, vs. thinking a bit more with the developer on pushing the boundaries and limits of the site and how it may help solve the problems in the area…

    1. “..and how it may help solve the problems in the area”

      Hey, leave the comedy to me…You think the developers are concerned with solving problems in the area? The only problem in the area for the developer is how to build and sell as many high-priced units asap before the bubble bursts.

    2. If only we could build an El train (ideally a BART spur) above Van Ness. I know the NIMBYs would never allow that in SF for aesthetic reasons but unless they are willing to personally cough up the money to dig a tunnel, then that’s what we should do.

      And then Geary is next. Lol, BRT, pbbbbbbbbtt. Seriously.

      1. totally agree BRT is a joke. It wouldve been a joke if implented 10 yrs ago, and that fact that it will be implemented 10 yrs from now is unbelievable. a subway is needed on both geary and van ness. anything less is unacceptable.

  23. I’m not opposed to multiple towers. But I am vehemently opposed to twin or diminutive towers. Stahp. Have some creativity/originality and design them differently ffs. Rincon(Hill & Center), Infinity, Lumina, Spear/Steuart, Embarcadero. That’s ENOUGH. They should share a theme but identical towers is tacky and I hate you.

  24. Let me get this straight…..so a deal has been reached to demolish the old EL Patio Ballroom-Carousel Ballroom located at the SW corner of Market and South Van Ness?

    The 1920’s old Spanish colonial style building was also the FILLMORE WEST, in the late 60s and early 70’s operated by the late rock impresario Bill Graham. That Ballroom upstairs has been turned into a auto bay for car repairs…..but a lot of history can still be found up there!

    Well, sya-nara, Fillmore West …and thanks for the good times and great memories.

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